Almost Persuaded

by Roby Ellis          SPANISH/ESPAÑOL

King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe.” Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian” (Acts 26:27-28).

While it is impossible to nail down the precise date of Saul’s conversion, it is generally believed—based on a few scarce hints in his epistles—to have taken place only a few years after the establishment of the church in Jerusalem. Following his conversion, Saul spent some time in Arabia (Galatians 1:17) and Jerusalem (vs. 18) before returning to his home town of Tarsus, where Barnabas found him and retrieved him to help him with the great work in Antioch, where the Gentile disciples first wore the name “Christian” (Acts 11:25-26). It was from Antioch that Paul would commence each of his three missionary journeys, evangelistic excursions which spanned anywhere from two to three years apiece. It would be an understatement indeed to say that Paul was not one to waste time, but by the time he meets King Agrippa, he has been detained in Caesarea for about two years—time that could have been well spent in working with the young churches he had helped to plant throughout the Roman Empire or in completing the tour of western Europe he had planned (Romans 15:24). While these thoughts must surely have weighed heavily at times on the mind of an anxious apostle, his faith must have assured him that God had a plan for him even in prison.

When the opportunity finally arrived for Paul to make his defense before someone who had knowledge of the Jewish religion (Acts 26:3), Paul did not see this so much as an opportunity to gain his freedom, but rather to preach the Gospel to a man of great power. Paul begins by rehearsing the history of his former life as a persecutor of the church and then tells of his encounter with Jesus. Paul then reminds Agrippa of the words of Moses and the prophets which testified of Jesus (John 5:39-47) and of his suffering that should be accomplished outside Jerusalem. Festus, who had no knowledge of such things, scoffed at Paul’s speech, but Agrippa’s response appears to have been more somber. Paul then directs a question to Agrippa that he directed toward many a Jew: “King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe.”

Agrippa is now faced with an important decision, a decision which is of far more consequence to himself than it is to Paul. To embrace Christianity would certainly cost him his throne and the glorious lifestyle to which he had become accustomed. In a most unusual twist, the judge has now become the defendant. Paul was in no need of an acquittal from Agrippa, for even in chains he was a free man (2 Corinthians 3:17). Agrippa was the one who so desperately needed to be set free from the chains of sin, and yet, in a most regrettable decision, he refused the great King’s offer of liberty. If you are in bondage to sin, will you allow the truth to set you free (John 8:32), or will you, like Agrippa, be “almost persuaded?”

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